#335 ~ Kehinde

Name given to the second after twins in the Yoruba naming system. It means the one that comes/lags behind. ‘Technically’ the older of the two. When I was growing up I always lagged behind, literally, the family would be there and I would be here, the straggler of the pack. I was Kehinde.

But the spelling was all wrong. The H threw them off, and the N didn’t seem to quite work. It was a silent H you’d say, so the N must be hard they thought. So I/it become Ken-Day.

But Barbie had a boyfriend called Ken, and I definitely wasn’t going to play him in the playground games of Barbie and friends. So no way was I going to be called Kenny, the traditional nickname, by my relatives. Why did you never get that Uncle Gbenga. No. No, Kenny is not acceptable.

So I became KK, till my niece was born and she took that name too. I had lost half of me and had to resort to K, Kay, sometimes affectionately Cakes.

But it’s actually pronounced Keh (like a cough from the back of your throughout, expelling the air harshly), in, deh.

Yet my anglophone mouth was so used to Kaaaaay, it became Kaaayindaay. And I thought I was so right. They just shrugged, smiled, and said what can you do – Oyinbo child.

So…how do I say my name? What is my name? Keh or Kay?

Does it even matter? Yes, says the small voice, No says the rebel, Maybe says the academic. Maybe it really does matter. Yes says the Nigerian, Maybe says the English, worried about further mispronunciations. Yes, says the radical, No says the apathetic youth, Perhaps says the non-committal girl/woman.

Will it still retain a meaning if it isn’t said correctly? What If I re-defined my own meaning? Who says I have to be part of that language system, I have my own

But I’m named in that one….but born into my own. In this English one

Why then a Yoruba name? Hmm?

Why Kehinde?

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One thought on “#335 ~ Kehinde

  1. Katy says:

    Kehinde = Keh -hin – day ( in tonic sulfa, for those old enough to know or who wish to learn = mi-do-re; ) – lagger, radical, rebel, individual, just you yourself, seeking self, beginning to find you – thinker, passionate speaker, beautiful person! (But then I am biased) – this is who you are, it is your identity, your connection to a pair, one half of Ibeji, deified, cherished and honoured by the Yoruba, it marks your special place in that culture.

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